Council looks to regulate Crab Island businesses

Maddie Rowley | 315-4353 | @maddiedestinlog |
Monday's city council meeting brought a lengthy discussion on commercial activity on Crab Island. [MADDIE ROWLEY/ THE LOG]

A group of Crab Island vendors gathered outside the Destin City Hall Annex on Monday evening after the city council meeting after talk of a moratorium on all commercial activity.

"Everybody out on Crab Island is licensed and regulated by the state," said Reef Burger owner Kevin Brown. "We’re not happy about it. The city of Destin doesn’t have jurisdiction over Crab Island."     

Toward the end of the meeting, Councilman Rodney Braden discussed commercial activity on Crab Island and a possible three-to-five-year or two-to-four-year moratorium on all commercial activity on Crab Island, citing the non-family friendly environment.

Mayor Gary Jarvis agreed that issues regarding Crab Island need to be addressed and that vendors should have a chance to speak for themselves at an upcoming city council meeting.

Councilman Cyron Marler was concerned about a negative ripple effect if Crab Island ceased commercial activity.

"People come to Destin for three reasons: fishing, Crab Island, and the beaches," said Marler.

Restaurateur and city councilman Chatham Morgan agreed with the idea of ending commercial activity on Crab Island.

"Some vendors on Crab Island will sell you the Bloody Mary mix but give you the vodka," Morgan said.

Councilman Tuffy Dixon was also in concurrence with Morgan.

"It wouldn’t stop people from going to Crab Island, people just won’t be able to buy a margarita or beer there," Dixon said.

Prebble Ramswell pointed out that Destin has already banned commercial activity in all city parks, and Crab Island is technically a part of the Gulf Island National Seashore.

According to City Manager Carisse LeJeune, legislation was crafted by the state to give Okaloosa County the ability to regulate Crab Island.

LeJeune asked that city land use attorney Kimberly Kopp draft a resolution on Crab Island’s commercial activity to present to the board at their next meeting.

In addition to Crab Island issues, the city council voted unanimously to extend Destin’s contract with Gulf Power until September 21 of this year as discussions with the utility continue.